This article misidentified the pastor who spoke at a memorial event for University of Michigan at Dearborn student Minhee Kim. The pastor who spoke was Seth Kim. Correction appended.
Every chair in the Anderson Room of the Michigan Union was filled last night. Those unable to find a seat lined the aisles and gathered at the back.
The sounds of stifled sobbing and crumpling tissues echoed through the room where family and friends had gathered to celebrate the life and mourn the death of Lance Cpl. Minhee Kim.
Kim, 20, died Wednesday in the Anbar province of Iraq. The Marine was a student at the University’s Dearborn campus. He had spent the last 10 years of his life as a resident of Ann Arbor. He had been in Iraq for only a few months.
In a eulogy, his brother, Isaac Kim, spoke about how his brother embraced life and those around him.
Once, when Isaac Kim and his brother were young, Minhee Kim came home with his knee covered in blood. Shocked and worried, his mother asked him what had happened. Kim was completely unfazed by the injury. He calmly told his mother he had hurt it diving for an errant ball in a pickup basketball game.
“He had no fear,” Isaac Kim said as he held back tears.
The speakers at last night’s memorial service painted a portrait of a young man deeply rooted in his faith and his community.
Before leaving for Iraq, Kim had spoken with Pastor Seth Kim of the Harvest Mission Community Church in Ann Arbor about joining the ministry when he returned. When Seth Kim asked Kim why he was joining the Marines, Kim said he wanted to serve his community and the country that had been had so good to him.
When Seth Kim heard those words, “it was a breath of fresh air,” he said.
Another friend told the story of when he and Kim met, playing recreational hockey. As the only Asian Americans on the team, they were drawn to each other. The two forged a friendship.
They often stayed up late, jamming on guitars and talking about their faith.
Kim spent his first year of college at Purdue University before transferring to the University’s Dearborn campus last year.
While in Iraq, Kim sent his last e-mail to his friends, family and fellow congregation members exactly a month before he died.
Seth Kim read from the e-mail during the service.
The letter said his unit had just arrived at the outskirts of Fallujah.
He described the excitement and anxiety of finally seeing battle and wrote about how his faith had been strengthened by the experience.
As the service ended, tears welled in the eyes of nearly everyone in the room. Several people lingered in the room and outside the doors after it was over, hugging, consoling each other and helping to brush aside the tears.
Seth Kim said crying was a necessary part of the process, something that everyone has to go through. But the key, he said, is learning to take joy a the life that had ended so suddenly.
– The Associated Press contributed to this report